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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 3, 2003

3 January 2003
Russian Scholar Says Tatars Should Be Permitted To Use Latin Script
In an interview published in the weekly "Ogonek" on 18 December, Mikhail Meyer, director of the Institute of the Countries of Asia and Africa at Moscow State University, criticized the prohibition on the Latin script recently introduced in Russia and called for allowing Tatarstan to use that script. Meyer said transition to the Latin Tatar script would not damage Russia's state interests. From a linguistic point of view, he said, the Latin script suits the Turkic languages better than Cyrillic. He added that he has problems while reading Tatar or Uzbek outlets in Cyrillic since he has to mentally convert texts into the Latin script in order to understand them.

Shaimiev On Tatarstan's Achievements In 2002
In an interview with Interfax on 29 December, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev listed the republic's main achievements in 2002, among them opening Russia's longest bridge -- the Kama Bridge is 14.5-kilometers long; opening the Tuben Kama oil refinery; constructing 1.5 million square meters of housing in a republican program to wipe out slums. Within the framework of that housing-construction program, a total of 35,000 families have obtained new apartments in the republic in the past seven years, 25,000 of them in Kazan, Shaimiev said. He added that the real income of Tatarstan's residents increased in 2002 by 10.7 percent, while pensions grew by 11.6 percent and the average monthly salary totaled 4,000 rubles ($125.5). Tatarstan remains one of the country's leading entities in terms of GDP, which is expected to be 250 billion rubles ($7.8 billion) in 2002, Shaimiev said. At the same time, he continued, republican leadership is concerned about a slow down in economic growth and falling investment in fixed capital.

Tatarstan Contributed 2.8 Percent Of Russia's Budget Revenues
Tatarstan provided 2.8 percent of federal budget revenues in the first nine months of the year, reported on 27 December, citing the Russian Tax Ministry's press service. Tatarstan is among Russia's eight "donor" regions: Moscow (22.4 percent), Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (10.8 percent), Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (4.6 percent), Moscow Oblast and St. Petersburg (3.8 percent each), Samara Oblast (2.8 percent), and Bashkortostan (2.6 percent). The federal government was responsible for collecting 49.5 percent of Russia's total revenue, while 50.5 percent was collected by regional entities, the ministry said.

Parliament Official On Results Of Implementation Of Law On Languages
Commenting on the results of the implementation of the law on the languages of Tatarstan's peoples, published by on 28 December, Razil Weliev, the chairman of the State Council Commission on Science, Education, Culture, and National Issues, said no satisfactory concept of developing national education has been provided in the republic over the past decade. Weliev criticized the poor state of Tatar teaching in kindergartens and the lack of attention the issue receives in the republic's universities and higher educational institutions. He said that the republic's leading industrial companies and plants have no room for Tatar in their activities and don't provide a single document written in Tatar. Weliev expressed his concern for the fact that the KamAZ leadership is going to close the only Tatar media outlet, "Nur," that is issued by the company. He added that a 15-percent additional payment to employees speaking both state languages at work provided by a republican law on languages has a low number of participants.

Yabloko Deputy Appeals To Tatarstan's Residents To Protest Construction Of Nuclear Facilities
In an article published in the weekly "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 26 December, State Duma Deputy (Yabloko) Sergei Mitrokhin said Tatarstan's territory is under threat from the radioactive pollution of several nuclear facilities and called on residents of the republic to protest the construction of any new nuclear plants in the region and the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia. Among others, Mitrokhin named neighboring Ulyanovsk Oblast's Dimitrovgrad Scientific Research Institute of Nuclear Reactors, which buries its spent nuclear fuel underground but is located near a fault line that links Dimitrovgrad with Tatarstan. Mitrokhin said cancer rates are already abnormally high in one of the villages near that fault. Mitrokhin also listed the Bashkir Nuclear Power Station, which is being revived in Agidel, and the Kama Alany Nuclear Power Station, which the Tatar government is planning to unfreeze, as dangerous.

Grants For Academy of Science Members Grows
Monthly grants to academics and corresponding members of the Tatar Academy of Sciences (TFA) have increased fivefold to 20,000 rubles ($628) and 10,000 rubles as of 1 January, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 26 December. The measure echoes a recent move by the Russian government that was approved by a 24 October resolution that gives a similar increase in payments to full and corresponding members of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN). The TFA is independent from RAN and is financed from the republican budget.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Former LUKoil Vice President Considering Run At Bashkir Presidency
In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 27 December, Relif Safin, the Altai Republic's representative in the Russian Federation Council and a former first vice president of LUKoil, admitted that he might run for president of Bashkortostan in 2003. Safin, who is from the republic, said he "cares about the republic's future.... One and the same person should not be governing [the republic] all the time. But I will take part in the elections only when I feel capable enough [of winning]. The time has not yet come [to decide whether to run]. It's too early to talk about it."

Duma Deputy Praises 2003 Federal Budget
Bashkortostan's representative in the Russian State Duma, Rim Bakiev, told reporters on 31 December that, in his opinion, the federal budget for 2003 was a "well-done, precise, transparent document, [and] the most closely adjusted to the reality [existing in Russia] and to contemporary economic challenges." He said that most budgetary expenditures would be directed at assisting regional budgets, ensuring national security against terrorism, and paying off the external debts. According to a program for Bashkortostan's socioeconomic development from 2003 through 2006, the republic is to get more than 7.3 billion rubles ($229.1 million) in federal subsidies in 2003.

Republic Fifth-Largest Wheat Producer In 2002
The Bashkir Agriculture Ministry announced on 31 December that with a wheat harvest of 4.5 million tons, the republic was Russia's fifth-largest wheat producer in 2002, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 2 January.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Cheboksary Student Sues Film Distributor Over 'Caligula'
Cheboksary resident Mikhail Sharovskii sued a local film distributor for 500,000 rubles ($15,700) in compensation for injury caused by his watching of the U.S. film "Caligula," reported on 30 December. Sharovskii, who is a law faculty student, said he was misled by the advertisement of the film as historical while in fact it turned out to be pornographic, including scenes of brutal sex and violence. He claimed that after he saw the film he suffered mental problems.

Sharovskii has already lost two similar lawsuits he filed against the Cheboksary cinema in which he watched the film three years ago and against the Russian Culture Ministry. In both cases the suit was thrown out because Sharovskii failed to provide his ticket to the film.

Nizhnii Novgorod Plant Receives Order From Chinese Navy
Krasnoe Sormovo General Director Nikolai Zharkov said the plant received a "multimillion-dollar order" from the Chinese Navy that will provide the Nizhnii Novgorod machinery plant with work until 2005, Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 28 December.

VAZ Reduces Production
According to preliminary data, VAZ assembled 700,000 automobiles in 2002, 95,500 of which were exported. An additional 100,000 assembly sets were delivered to the company's minor assembly lines in Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Ecuador, and Kazakhstan, reported on 2 January.

VAZ Chairman Vladimir Kadannikov told a press conference on 27 December that according to the 2003 production plan approved by the board, the concern will assemble 690,000 vehicles this year and export 90,000 of them.

Moscow Fails To Repay Debt To Sverdlovsk Defense Companies
Sverdlovsk Oblast defense industries are owed more than 1.5 billion rubles ($47.2 million) by the federal government, Uralinformbureau reported on 27 December. The total debt increased in 2002 by some 600 million rubles ($18.9 million). Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin earlier stated that the federal budget will repay all debts to defense firms for state orders by January.

Meanwhile, Sverdlovsk Oblast defense companies increased production by 40 percent in the first 11 months of 2002 in comparison with the same period the previous year, reported on 27 December.

Izhevsk City Duma Opposes Per-Minute Telephone Charge
The Izhevsk City Duma appealed to the republic's State Council, president, and government to postpone introduction of per-minute telephone charges in Izhevsk scheduled by the Udmurtian affiliate of Volga-Telekom for 1 January, reported on 27 December. The deputies argued that the measure will violate the rights of disabled people, pensioners, large families, and other needy residents and suggested that a referendum be held on the issue. Meanwhile, the agency cited Sergei Fomichev, the director of the Volga-Telekom affiliate, as saying that introduction of the per-minute fee may be postponed till July or August.

Shamanov Denies Rumors Of His Resignation
Meeting with editors in chief of local media on 27 December, Ulyanovsk Oblast Governor Vladimir Shamanov denied rumors that he is planning to resign, reported the same day. In addition, Shamanov confirmed that he will run for a second term. He listed industrial growth, increase in wages, and good relations with federal authorities as the oblast's major achievements.

New Deputy Prosecutor-General In Volga Federal District
The Federation Council on 27 December appointed Sergei Gerasimov deputy prosecutor-general in charge of the Volga Federal District, Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported the next day. Gerasimov, 55, replaces Aleksandr Zvyagintsev, who was transferred to the Prosecutor-General's Office in Moscow. Gerasimov previously headed the Scientific Research Institute of Problems of Strengthening Legality and Legal Order under the Prosecutor-General's Office.

Ural District Envoy: Strong Production Growth In District
Presidential envoy to the Ural Federal District Petr Latyshev said the volume of industrial production in the district in 2002 grew by 6 percent, or 2 percentage points more than the Russian average, reported on 1 January. The district, with about 8 percent of Russia's total population, provides 18 percent of country's industrial production, Latyshev said. He added that crime fell by more than 20 percent. He also named problems that remain unresolved in the district, in particular, the growth of the number of enterprises losing money to some 60-70 percent of all companies.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova